Biography of Dinah Shore
Dinah Shore – American singer, actress, and television personality.
Name: Fannye Rose Shore
Date of Birth: February 29, 1916
Place of Birth: Winchester, Tennessee, United States
Date of Death: February 24, 1994 (aged 77)
Place of Death: Beverly Hills, California, United States
Occupation: Singer, Actress, Talk show host
Father: Solomon Shore
Mother: Anna Stein Shore
Spouse/Ex: George Montgomery (m. 1943-1963), Maurice F. Smith (m. 1963-1964)
Children: John David Montgomery, Melissa Montgomery-Hime
One of America’s most popular entertainers long after her mid-’40s commercial peak, Dinah Shore born on February 29, 1916, to Russian-Jewish immigrant shopkeepers, Anna (née Stein) and Solomon Shore, in Winchester, Tennessee, U.S. She rose to prominence as a recording artist during the Big Band era, but achieved even greater success a decade later, in television, mainly as hostess of a series of variety programs for Chevrolet.
Shore was the first major vocalist to break away from the big-band format and begin a solo-billed career. During the ’40s, she recorded several of the decade’s biggest singles “Buttons and Bows,” “The Gypsy,” and “I’ll Walk Alone” all of which spent more than a month at number one on the Hit Parade. After launching a television variety series in 1951, Shore appeared on one program or another, with few gaps, into the 1980s.
During her singing career, Shore contributed to several songs as a lead vocalist. These included “I Thought About You”, “The Breeze and I”, “Yes, My Darling Daughter”, “I Don’t Want to Walk Without You”, “Body and Soul”, “Someone to Watch Over Me”, “The Best Things In Life Are Free”, “A Wonderful Guy”, “It’s All In the Game” and “Fascination”, to name a few. She recorded numerous albums like ‘Musical Orchids’, ‘The Blue Velvet Voice of Dinah Shore’, ‘The King and I’, ‘Holding Hands at Midnight’, ‘Dinah, Yes Indeed’ and ‘Dinah Sings Some Blues with Red’. As an actress, Shore acted in the movies ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’, ‘Till the Clouds Roll By’, ‘Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick’, ‘Belle of the Yukon,’ and ‘Up in Arms’. In addition, she enjoyed a four-decade-long career in television, starring in her own variety and music shows and even hosting a number of talk shows. On a personal note, Shore married twice in her lifetime. She loved golf and was an avid supporter of women’s professional golf.
Childhood, Family and Educational Life
Dinah Shore, by name of Fannye Rose Shore, was born on February 29, 1916, in Winchester, Tennessee, USA, to Solomon and Anna Shore. At the age of two, she was diagnosed with polio. After intensive care and following a course of rigorous exercises, she recovered. However, she sustained a deformed foot. She had an elder sister, eight years her senior, Elizabeth, known as “Bessie”.
In 1924, the Shore family moved to McMinnville, Tennessee, where her father had opened a department store. By her fifth-grade year, the family had moved to Nashville, where she completed elementary school. Although shy because of her limp, she became actively involved in sports, was a cheerleader at Nashville’s Hume-Fogg High School, and was involved in other activities. At some point, Shore became known as Frances.
At the age of 16, Shore lost her mother. Later, she attended Vanderbilt University and graduated from there in 1938 with a degree in sociology. She visited the Grand Ole Opry and made her radio debut on Nashville’s WSM (AM) radio station. Shore decided to return to pursuing her career in singing, moving to New York City to audition for orchestras and radio stations, first on a summer break from Vanderbilt, and after graduation, for good. In many of her auditions, she sang the popular song “Dinah.” When disc jockey Martin Block could not remember her name, he called her the “Dinah girl”, and soon after the name stuck, becoming her stage name. She eventually was hired as a vocalist at radio station WNEW, where she sang with Frank Sinatra. She recorded and performed with the Xavier Cugat orchestra, and signed a recording contract with RCA Victor Records in 1940.
In her early days in the show business, Dinah Shore was involved with several artists like drummer Gene Krupa and actor James Stewart.
Shore was married to actor George Montgomery from 1943 to 1962. She gave birth to daughter Melissa Ann, now known as Melissa Montgomery, in January 1948. She later adopted her son, John David “Jody” Montgomery. The author of Mr. S, Frank Sinatra’s longtime valet George Jacobs, claimed Shore and Sinatra had a long-standing affair in the 1950s.
After her divorce from Montgomery, the American beauty married Maurice Smith. The marriage was short-lived. She was later involved with singer Eddie Fisher, actor Rod Taylor, comedian Dick Martin and actor Burt Reynolds.
In the early 1970s, Shore had a long and happy public romance with actor Burt Reynolds, who was 20 years her junior. After the relationship cooled, the tabloids linked Shore with other younger men, including Wayne Rogers, Andy Williams, and “Tarzan” actor Ron Ely.
Shore, who played golf, was a longtime supporter of women’s professional golf. In 1972, she helped found the Colgate Dinah Shore Golf Tournament, which in its current identity as the ANA Inspiration remains one of the major golf tournaments on the LPGA Tour. The tournament is held each spring at Mission Hills Country Club, near Shore’s former home in Rancho Mirage, California. Shore was the first female member of the Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles.
Career and Works
Dinah Shore made her radio debut on WSM (AM) radio station in the late 1930s. She then moved to New York City with the dream of becoming a singer. In many of her auditions, she performed the song “Dinah”. It was during this time that she acquired “Dinah” as her stage name. She eventually was hired as a vocalist at radio station WNEW, where she sang with Frank Sinatra. She recorded and performed with the Xavier Cugat orchestra, and signed a recording contract with RCA Victor Records in 1940.
In March 1939, Shore debuted on national radio on the Sunday-afternoon CBS radio program, Ben Bernie’s Orchestra. In February 1940, she became a featured vocalist on the NBC Radio program The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street, a showcase for traditional Dixieland and Blues songs. With Shore, the program became so popular, it was moved from 4:30 Sunday afternoon to a 9:00 Monday night time slot in September. In her primetime debut for “the music of the Three Bs, Barrelhouse, Boogie-woogie, and the Blues”, she was introduced as “Mademoiselle Dinah ‘Diva’ Shore, who starts a fire by rubbing two notes together!” Shore recorded with the two Basin Street bands for RCA Victor; one of her records was the eponymous “Dinah’s Blues”. The same year, her singing captured the attention of Eddie Cantor and the latter signed her for his radio show, ‘Time to Smile.’ Soon after this, she signed a contract with RCA Victor Records and recorded the song “Yes, My Darling Daughter” which became a major hit.
After this, Shore started her own radio show called ‘Call to Music’. In 1943, she appeared in her first film ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’. She then went on to appear in another radio show called ‘Paul Whiteman Presents’. Then the American singer released the singles “Blues In the Night”, “I’ll Walk Alone”, “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To” and “Jim”, all of which were successful.
Shore recorded 75 hits between 1940 and 1955, among them “Yes, My Darling Daughter,” “Dear Hearts and Gentle People,” and “The Anniversary Song.” She starred on Eddie Cantor’s radio show and made an unspectacular foray into films before finding her niche on television. Her first million-seller came in 1942 with the prototypical blues crossover nugget, “Blues in the Night.” Later that year, she moved to Victor and hit big with “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To” and her first number one hit, 1944’s “I’ll Walk Alone.” Shore also began appearing in films, including 1944’s Up in Arms and 1946’s Till the Clouds Roll By.
Shore continued doing radio shows throughout the 1940s. In 1946, she got signed to Columbia Records and went on to release the song, “Shoo Fly Pie And Apple Pan Dowdy”. During the 1940s, she also did a number of movies, such as ‘Follow the Boys’, ‘Up in Arms’, ‘Till the Clouds Roll By’ and ‘Belle of the Yukon’. Shore soon became a successful singing star with her own radio show, Call to Music, which was broadcast on CBS February 13, 1948 – April 16, 1948, and on NBC April 20, 1948 – June 29, 1948.
In 1950, Shore returned to RCA Victor with a deal to record 100 sides for $1 million (equivalent to $10.4 million in 2018). The hits kept coming, but with less frequency and were not charting as high as in the ’40s. Dinah’s biggest hits of this era were “My Heart Cries for You” and “Sweet Violets”, both peaking at number three in 1951. Several duets with Tony Martin did well, with “A Penny a Kiss” being the most popular, reaching number eight. “Blue Canary” was a 1953 hit, and her covers of “Changing Partners” and “If I Give My Heart to You” were popular top-20 hits. “Love and Marriage” and “Whatever Lola Wants” were top-20 hits from 1955.
In 1951 Shore debuted as the host of a 15-minute variety program, “The Dinah Shore Show.” She followed this with “The Dinah Shore Chevy Show” (1956-63), on which she established the jingle “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” as her trademark along with a signature sign-off kiss for the audience.
“Chantez, Chantez” was her last top-20 hit, staying on the charts for over 20 weeks in 1957. Shore remained at RCA Victor until 1958, and during that time released albums including Bouquet of Blues, Once in a While, and Vivacious, which were collections of singles with different orchestras and conductors such as Frank DeVol and Hugo Winterhalter. Holding Hands at Midnight a studio album from 1955 and Moments Like These, a studio album from 1958, recorded in stereo, with an orchestra under the musical direction of Harry Zimmerman, who performed the same duties on The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, were the exceptions.
During the 1950s, Shore also recorded several hit duets including “A Penny a Kiss” and “Blue Canary” as well as hit covers including “If I Give My Heart to You” and “Changing Partners”. Shore recorded with RCA Victor until 1958. During this time, she recorded many albums like ‘Bouquet of Blues’, ‘Moments Like These ‘, ‘Holding Hands at Midnight’, ‘Vivacious’ and ‘Once in a While’.
In 1959, Shore left RCA Victor for Capitol Records. Although she recorded only one minor hit for her new label (“I Ain’t Down Yet”, which peaked at 102 on Billboard’s pop chart in 1960), the collaboration produced four “theme albums” that paired Dinah with arranger Nelson Riddle (Dinah, Yes Indeed!) conductor and accompanist André Previn (Somebody Loves Me and Dinah Sings, Previn Plays), and jazz’s Red Norvo (Dinah Sings Some Blues With Red). Her final two Capitol albums were Dinah, Down Home and The Fabulous Hits (Newly Recorded).
After working on the albums ‘The Fabulous Hits’ and ‘Dinah, Down Home’, she was dropped by Capitol in 1962 after which she recorded only a handful of albums. These included ‘Lower Basin Street Revisited’, ‘Songs for Sometime Losers’ and ‘Dinah!’ Shore’s final studio album was ‘Dinah! Visits Sesame Street’ which was released in 1979.
From 1970 through 1980, Shore hosted two daytime programs, Dinah’s Place (1970-1974) on NBC and Dinah! (later Dinah and Friends) in syndication from 1974 through 1980 and a third cable program from 1989-1992. Dinah’s Place, primarily sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive (which later sponsored her women’s golf tournament), was a 30-minute Monday-through-Friday program broadcast at 10:00 am (ET) over NBC, her network home since 1939. Shore described this show as a “Do-Show” as opposed to a chat show because she would have her guests demonstrate an unexpected skill, for example, Frank Sinatra sharing his spaghetti sauce recipe, Spiro Agnew playing keyboard accompanying Dinah on “Sophisticated Lady”, or Ginger Rogers showing Shore how to throw a clay pot on a potter’s wheel.
In April 1976, Shore appeared on the comedy program ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman’. The same year, she hosted ‘Dinah and her New Best Friends’. Next, she guest-starred in the show ‘Pee-wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special’. The American beauty then ended her TV career by hosting ‘A Conversation with Dinah’, a TNN show that ran from 1989 to 1992.
During her years on television, Shore garnered 10 Emmy awards, was repeatedly named one of America’s most admired women, and continued to delight viewers as the host of “Dinah’s Place” (1970-74), “Dinah” (1974-79), “Dinah and Friends” (1979-84), and “A Conversation with Dinah” (1989-91), which appeared on the Nashville Network. Shore was married twice, first to actor George Montgomery and then briefly to Maurice Smith.
Awards and Honor
Dinah Shore won several awards in her lifetime including nine Emmys, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award. Shore was honored with the Banff Television Festival Award of Excellence in 1984.
In 1991, Dinah Shore was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. In acknowledgment of her contributions to golf, the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America awarded her with the Old Tom Morris Award in 1993.
In 1994, Shore was elected an honorary member of the LPGA Hall of Fame.
Death and Legacy
In the spring of 1993, Shore was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died of complications of the disease on February 24, 1994, at her home in Beverly Hills, California, five days before her 78th birthday, and was cremated that same day. Some of her ashes were interred in two memorial sites: the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California, and Forest Lawn Cemetery (Cathedral City). Other ashes went to relatives.
During the 1940s, Dinah Shore recorded several hits, such as “The Gypsy”, “Laughing on the Outside”, “The Anniversary Song”, “Doin’ What Comes Naturally”, “I Wish I Didn’t Love You So” and “Dear Hearts and Gentle People” with Columbia Records. The success of these songs made her a singing superstar. She lent her voice to two Disney movies: ‘Make Mine Music’ and ‘Fun and Fancy-Free’. During the 1950s, she recorded the hit songs “Whatever Lola Wants” and “Love and Marriage” with RCA Victor. In the later years of her career, Dinah Shore hosted two shows, ‘Dinah’s Place’ and ‘Dinah’ (later renamed to ‘Dinah and Friends’).
Shore became a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame when it absorbed the LPGA Hall in 1998. She received the 1993 Old Tom Morris Award from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America, GCSAA’s highest honor. In 1963, she hired mid-century modern architect Donald Wexler to design her home in Palm Springs. The house was sold to actor Leonardo DiCaprio in 2014 for almost $5.5 million.
The Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend, a lesbian community’s weekend getaway and music festival, is named after her.